Lt. Don Jardian (Ken Wahl) is seen saluting a superior officer while uncovered (with his cap or hat removed). Naval services do not salute while uncovered. Later, he is seen covered (wearing his uniform cap) while visiting nurse Deborah Solomon (Cheryl Ladd) in sick bay. Naval service personnel remove their covers indoors and are particularly forbidden to wear them in sick bay or a chow hall. See more »
Every single film critic's review of this I could find - Leonard Maltin and Roger Ebert being two of these critics whom I particularly respect
have given it a pitifully low rating. I can't completely figure it
out, but I think the reason this movie failed to garner better reviews might have had something to do with the timing of its release; one must remember that the Vietnam War was still an open scab for this country in the mid-'80s, and all the film treatments of the war up until then had been pointed tragedies - from "The Deer Hunter" to "Apocalypse Now", "Coming Home", and even director Sidney J. Furie's other 1978 Vietnam film "Boys in Company C." So, audiences and critics were probably not very open at that time to a film about a romantic relationship in the middle of the war with a semi-happy ending. However, in hindsight this movie deserves a second look, and seems to have received one, as indicated by the positive reviews I have read from virtually every amateur online reviewer, which would qualify this movie as a sleeper 20 years after its original release.
Essentially, the movie has an old-fashioned storyline with 1980s sensibilities - the type of movie that would have been more at home in the post-WWII era along with such films as "From Here to Eternity" or "The Best Years of Our Lives." I disagree with Ebert's review, which said this was simply one of those ridiculous movies where "the whole world was a stage, and millions of people were fighting and dying so that these two goofballs could swap spit?" Ken Wahl and Cheryl Ladd play fairly likable, 3-dimenional characters - he a shallow Naval surgeon who volunteered for wartime duty for the experience, and she an altrusitic nurse with strong street-smarts. They meet at a Naval base hospital where Wahl has taken an injured soldier for emergency care, but complications ensure when he tries to carry on a relationship with her in the middle of wartime. I thought the film held the utmost respect for military personnel in the war - the attention to technical detail was superb, and the final credits list no less than six military technical advisors. In addition, I was most impressed by the convincing battle scenes, and believe that these scenes might be some of director Furie's best work, easily in the same league of "Boys in Company C" and even "Platoon." Make no mistake: this is a war movie with a romantic story angle, not a romance movie with a war story angle, and I believe director Furie makes this important distinction very clear.
Furie was right to make a movie about Vietnam with a unique storyline: after all, I am sure there were romantic relationships that developed in that war, with such close contact among medical personnel in trying circumstances. Additionally, he deserves credit for making the first and only film I can think of to portray the service of women in the Vietnam War - the acclaimed TV series "China Beach" is the only other portrayal of similar subject matter. This movie was just released at the wrong time, when audiences were expecting only angry, hard-hitting social commentary. "Purple Hearts" is another example of why Furie is the Rodney Dangerfield of film directors, never receiving any respect when it is due. While no masterpiece, I still recommend this little-seen film.
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